Three Boating Near-Misses Bring to Light Need for Safety Measures
May 13, 2011 - TRC - By DIFW Press release
Three separate incidents this week served notice that wearing personal floatation devices (PFDs) – colloquially referred to as “life jackets” – can mean the difference between a safe return home from a day on the water or suffering dramatic consequences.
“At this time of year, it's almost a necessity,” said Sgt. Ron Dunham of the Maine Warden Service. “It's like putting your seat belt on in your vehicle. It's the only safety device you have at your disposal. People need to take advantage of that.”
“It's serious business. It's life and death when you're in the water.”
Though air temperatures are finally warming in Maine, boating conditions remain treacherous in many areas. Water levels are high, water temperatures remain bone-chillingly cold, and wind and wave conditions vary from minute to minute.
Earlier this week, two people capsized a canoe on the Piscataquis River in Howland following a day of picking fiddleheads. Both were wearing a PFD – crediting their use with their survival in the icy water.
On Upper Cold Stream Pond in Lincoln just one day earlier, a pair of fishermen needed the assistance of astute camp owners nearby to rescue them after plunging into the water. They were not wearing PFDs.
And off the coast of Vinalhaven, four kayakers were the subject of a distress call after becoming separated in 3 to 6-foot seas and were feared to have capsized. Two were located by the U.S. Coast Guard, while the others was rescued by a nearby fishing boat. Again, the use of PFDs proved extremely beneficial.
If someone is exposed to cold water for too long, shock, loss of limb dexterity, incapacitation and hypothermia can occur. In all instances, a proper PFD can be a life-saving device.
“It pays to do it right. Even though it might be cumbersome, it will make the difference,” Sgt. Dunham said. “You probably only have between 5-10 minutes of ability to save yourself (in cold water). After that, you don't even have the strength to hold on. The reality is that rescuers are likely many, many minutes away. Depending on where they are and where you are, they might be hours away.”
“Every time you go out without a PFD, you're gambling with your life.”
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 284 State St., SHS 41, Augusta, ME 04333
NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.